by Robbie P.
In today’s society, a lot of us see the term “social” and automatically associate it with video games or social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. When I am referring to the term social, I am talking about literally physically interacting with one another as human beings. Defined from the Cambridge English Dictionary (2016), Social is an occasion when the members of a group or organization meet informally to enjoy themselves. In the context of sport and recreation, examples of this could be sports clubs, scouts/guides and youth clubs. I myself hardly hear about these 3 clubs nowadays, and I think part of the reason is because youth have a wide and varied access to technology. I am not saying technology isn’t great, in fact, it’s one of the best things to happen on this planet. However, it has its weaknesses and social interaction (in person) with one another is a major weakness, especially amongst the current generation.
As a youth soccer coach, I love seeing the kids playing the sport with a smile on their face. Sports is a chance to get away from the outside world and get involved in a physical activity that you enjoy. In my short time as a coach, I can already see the differences in the youth’s behaviours when they are participating and when they are not. It’s like there’s a sudden flick of a switch and they begin to interact with one another. But when that 2 hour time period comes to an end, its back to the screens again.
Social Development Barriers
Laziness. Notice how I kept it short and sweet. This is mainly because I do not want to go off on a tangent about the other issues such as cyber bullying etc. The youth in today’s society have probably the laziest attitude up to this date. There is no will to go and partake in physical activity, or simply go out with your friends to hang out (unless your having a few cold ones). Motivation concerns energy, direction, persistence and equifinality (Deci & Ryan, 2000). You could argue about the cost of equipment for certain sports, but there are many activities which can be performed with next to zero equipment and are very enjoyable. Take the game of tag for example. Have you ever saw an adult play tag? They have the biggest smile on their face because it brings back memories of them as kids, but it’s also very fun and physically engaging.
Social Development Pros
Engaging in social interactions with others throughout youth can set you up for life. The skills learned from social interaction are some things we take for granted. A lot of people suffer a fear of public speaking. Have they ever thought that maybe in their sports teams that they constantly communicate openly to the group and add their opinions to the development of the team/club. I understand that maybe not everyone is as confident at standing up and speaking in a large crowd, but what if it was one of their human rights that was endangered? Would they just sit there and let it unfold, I very much doubt so. The point I am getting at is that social interaction can develop skills such as confidence in various settings. The positives of social development touches on the 40 developmental assets of positive youth development. Empowerment being the main one in my own opinion. What is relevant and important for present purposes is the prominence given to the interactions among individuals (Becker, 1974). Giving youth the chance to make their own decisions and cooperate with one another to come to a conclusion about a problem is a great way for social interaction. The sense of leadership and feeling important can strive them forward and also allows each member of a group to voice an opinion.
I would like to reiterate the point that youth spend too much time in front of a screen as opposed to being outdoors. I remember only 10-15 years ago I would leave the house at 9am, come home for a sandwich at 1/2pm and go straight back out until late hours of the night. I hated staying in the house, but now it seems that the common trend is to interact with social media and cell phones. I know I am one of those screen zombies nowadays, but I’d like to think that my generation of youth will realize the importance of being with friends and surrounding themselves in an active environment. Physical activity and social interaction are 2 very important aspects of life, the latter seems to be slowly on the decline in today’s youth. Let’s hope for better things to come.
References & Links
Social Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (2016). Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/social
Becker, Gary S. (1974) “A Theory of Social Interactions” Journal of Political Economy, 82, 6, 1063-1093
Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78.